Dairy farmers live on or near the land they farm. They understand that practicing environmental stewardship is not only good for their farm, their community, and their bottom line—it’s the right thing to do.

Dairy farmers work hard to keep waterways safe for their families, their communities, and the future. Part of that effort involves planting trees.

Buffering Water from Farmlands

Nearly a quarter of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is agricultural land. The streams and creeks that cross farmlands eventually flow into rivers and empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

To lessen the effect on the Chesapeake Bay, many dairy farmers establish riparian buffers. Simply put, they plant trees and other vegetation alongside streams and creeks on the farm to create a buffer between the land and the waterway.

Benefits of Riparian Buffers

Planting streamside buffers improves the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay region. The roots of the trees and other vegetation strengthen the soil and prevent the soil from being carried away by the flow of the water.

In addition to stabilizing the terrain alongside the waterway, the trees and vegetation also filter toxins and absorb nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous. These buffers also provide a habitat for animals, shade the water, which keeps it cool for aquatic life, and create a healthy separation between the stream and nearby farms.

Trees also play a role in mitigating climate change. As they grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the air and store carbon in the trees and soil.

Beyond Buffers

Riparian buffers are just one example of environmental practices on dairy farms. Keep in mind, each farm is unique, with different landscapes, geography, soil conditions, cropping practices and animal feed requirements. Waterway protection practices on each farm are tailored to their unique needs. Many farms implement practices that protect soil health and reduce field erosion, recycle and curtail water use, make efficient use of manure and fertilizer, and minimize stormwater runoff.

Worth the Wait Farms: Cover Crop Chat

E-Z Acres Farm: Buffer Strip Banter

Fair Hill Farms: Let’s Talk Manure

A Valuable Partnership

Dairy farmers have many partners on their environmental stewardship journey. These partnerships help identify and implement different practices that benefits both the environment and the farm.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay is one organization that collaborates closely with dairy farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Alliance staff coordinates with the farms and other partners to help dairy farmers meet their environmental goals. The Alliance has a long and successful history of collaborating with different landowners to establish riparian buffers on their lands.

See more examples of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay working with dairy farmers.

Get Involved!

There are many ways to offer support to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and their partnership with dairy farmers. Stay informed, advocate, volunteer, or donate. Learn more from their website.

Support The Alliance

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